Interviewed by Anders Sandvall
Live pictures and of Mike Andersson by Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Metal Heaven for the promo pictuers of the band
I’m proud to present the first ever interview with Cloudscape singer and band leader Mike Andersson. We sat down for a chat before they were about to head on stage at Club Powerhouse in Malmo Sweden. Cloudscape is one of the hottest up and coming acts from Sweden. Enjoy!
Hi Mike, can you give us some background info about Cloudscape?
Hi Anders. Basically Cloudscape was formed in 2001 by all of us (Mike Andersson, Bjorn Eliasson, Patrik Svärd, Haynes Pherson & Roger Landin). But, before forming Cloudscape all of us were members in a band locally known as “Doctor Weird”. We didn’t manage to get attention from record labels with the music in Doctor Weird so, after taking some time off music we decided to start all over again as a brand new band with new, fresh and wider song ideas etc so, here we are with two albums released and a third one in the works.
Why the band name Cloudscape?
Roger Landin (drums) came up with a lot of different bandnames so, after agreeing in the band about the 5 best and fitting names out of his list of suggestions we sent the 5 bandnames to our manager for him to choose the best one so, Cloudscape was chosen;). When looking at the mirror I definitely think that Cloudscape was the right decision since I think it resembles our music and all.
You recorded a few demos during 2003, which labels did you send them to and did the demos land you any deal?
I don’t remember all labels we sent the demos to because, there were quite a few + those things were handled by our management. But, a label in the UK found Cloudscape interesting so, we almost signed a deal with that label but, unfortunately the label went bankrupt. So, a few months later we had a few new labels coming up with offers to get us signed to their respective rosters so, we found the deal from “Metal Heaven” to be the best for us. When the debut album was recorded in the studio we also landed a deal with Japanese label “Marquee/Avalon” for the Asian territory.
Has the band gone through any member changes through the years?
Nope, none at all I’m happy to say. Even if we of course have differences in our opinions at times we get along really well. A thing that is important in Cloudscape is our friendship. When we rehearse for instance the coffee breaks are equally important as playing our songs, hehe;).
Your debut was released during 2005, what did the media and fans think of it?
Our debut album received great critics both from media and fans. Most of the reviews I’ve read about that album were really good:).
Were all the songs on the debut newly written material or did you feature any older demo material on it as well?
All songs except for 2 songs were written after we formed Cloudscape. The other two songs (Scream and Slave) origins from the “Doctor Weird” era.
Who writes the material in the band and what are the lyrics about? Are you a political band or an aware band overall?
The two albums we’ve done and the one we’re about to record is written by me and Björn Eliasson. The lyrics are mostly written by Roger, Patrik, Bjorn and me and deal with everything between things people can relate to and also more science fiction-like things, hehe. We have no certain guidelines in our lyrics. We write about what we think is interesting to write about and what fits the atmosphere in each song. We are definitely NOT a political band. We are happy to leave the political things to the politicians;). So, I guess it’s better to say that Cloudscape is an “aware band overall”.
You are currently signed to Roastinghouse Management, are you happy with Roastinghouse in general?
Absolutely, they are handling all stuff that we don’t have knowledge about + they have contacts with labels and all that. We are really happy with them and it’s frankly a “relief” to have them working for us. I mean, since they are doing the “paper work” then we can focus on our music and all that comes to it.
What did the press and fans think of your second album CRIMSON SKIES that came last year?
Just like the debut album we received great critics and feedback from fans and media but, even better:). Let’s hope that this trend continues with our third album:). With Crimson skies we also landed a deal with US label “Nightmare records” for the US and Canadian territory:)
The producer on your first album was Anders “Theo” Theander and on the second one you worked with Pontus Lindmark, what’s the difference between those two as producer do you think?
I don’t think the differences between them are that big. I mean, basically Pontus is taught by Anders “Theo” Theander and upon that Pontus have developed his own producing trademark/skills. Pontus was involved in the producing of our debut as well but, it was Theo that was the “main” producer. On Crimson Skies they switched places so; Pontus was the main producer on Crimson skies and Theo executive producer.
I have heard a lot about Cloudscape during the last few months, you are really hyped, what do you think of that? Do you think you’re hyped at the moment?
Hyped???? That’s a pleasant surprise, hehe:). I didn’t know that we’re considered hyped but, if you’re telling the truth then all I can say is that we’re honored and happy about it:). We of course read comments about Cloudscape on the internet and we are aware that our fanbase have grown and is continuing to grow but, it’s a pleasant surprise to hear that you think Cloudscape is hyped:). Frankly I can’t answer if I consider us hyped because, I haven’t heard that talk the way you have since I’m not going to many concerts and stuff like I guess you do (except for the Cloudscape shows, of course, hehe;). But, as I said, it’s great to hear from a guy like you that you think Cloudscape is hyped since you are on the “road” as much as I believe you are:).
Do you experience any increasing interest for the band at the moment?
Absolutely, we receive a lot of awesome comments and messages through our personal websites at myspace.com from fans + forwarded messages from our webmaster sent by fans to the Cloudscape space (www.myspace.com/cloudscapemetal). We really love to read nice comments and messages so, keep em coming, hehe;). There’s quite a lot talk about the band at myspace.com :).
What’s the main difference between European fans and Asian fans? Are there any difference between them, by that I mean any difference in craziness and so on?
Hehe hehe, I guess all fans wherever they come from can be crazy in their own ways and manners;). But, the fans I’m most used to are the European ones since I have met many of them at concerts. The US fans seems cool as well by reading numerous cool comments and mails from them:). But, the Japanese fans seem kind of quiet. Very rare to receive fan mails from the Asian fans…I don’t know why….may be the language. I better get some knowledge about the Japanese fans when (or if) Cloudscape visits Japan someday;).
Metal Heaven is releasing your albums in Europe and that label is based in Germany, do you see any problems in being signed to a label that aren’t based in Sweden?
Absolutely not, I mean, most of the heavy metal labels are based in Germany (or other countries). We don’t have that many metal labels in Sweden so; I see no problem with that at all.
Are you happy with the work Metal Heaven has put into the album like promotion etc?
They have done a good job. They have the promotion company called “Germusica” to promote the Metal Heaven releases so, they have done a good job but, promotion (getting the word out about a new album) can always be better so, maybe if we were signed to a bigger label the promotion would be even better. So, I’d say that we are satisfied based on the Metal Heaven label size. One thing I honestly can say that we aren’t very impressed by when it comes to the promotion from Metal heaven is that I rarely read any commercial (promotion) on the internet in webzines and stuff. No album banners or anything so, I guess that’s a thing they should put some priority to in this cyber world. They do promotion in magazines all over Europe but, they should focus on the internet as well (at least more than they do). Maybe I’m wrong but, that’s how I experience it.
For how many albums have you signed on for to Metal Heaven I know that is only two?
We have signed a deal for 3 albums so the album we’re about to record will be the last one according to contract. Then we’ll see if we’ll sign for a new label or if we’ll stay…
You haven’t done many shows through the years, how come?
I think the main reason for that is because we have no booking agency (we have tried to find agencies but, most of them already have too many bands on their rosters to take care of) + our European record label doesn’t support live shows the way bigger labels does. The second thing is that we have only released 2 albums and it takes some time to get established. But, nevertheless we have done quite many concerts during 2007 so I guess that the demands grow stronger when it comes to live performances as well:).
You played at Sweden Rock Festival last year, how was that?
It was really, really cool. The crowd was big and really supportive so, that gig will be hard to forget;). I guess we gained a lot of new fans in Sweden thanks to that gig:).
How would you like to describe what kind of music you play?
When people asks I always say that we play “melodic metal with progressive touches”. We have no boundaries and our ambition is to keep the music fairly progressive for the prog fan and fairly straight forward for the genuine metal fan. The thing we think is most important in our music is the melodies and the arrangements all blended with heavy or dynamic riffs/parts.
I know you’re preparing for entering the studio to record your third album, when is it due to be released and what can we expect musicwise of the album?
There isn’t no release date yet but, as far as I know it will be released sometime during the period February to April 2008.
The new songs will show both a heavier side of Cloudscape since there will be a few songs that are among the heaviest we’ve done to date and also a more atmospheric and dynamic side of Cloudscape with softer parts. I think that we will release an album that will show more angles in our music without leaving the basic style we have established ourselves in with our two previous albums. You will definitely get a genuine Cloudscape album but, with more of everything ;).
Are all of the material ready to record and can you reveal any song titles?
All songs are completely finished as “pre-productions” and they are ready to record in the studio. A few song titles will be “Mind Diary”, “Alagoas”, “Cloak & Daggers”, “One Silent Moment” etc 😉
Has the album got any working name? Or have you set the title already?
We have set the title but, we haven’t made it official yet so, keep your eyes open in the official Cloudscape forum (forum.cloudscape.se) the next coming weeks in September and October because, there you will be able to follow and discuss the recording process with daily studio reports from us in the band. Sometime during the recording process we will announce the new album title ;).
Are you once again going to use the Roastinghouse Studio? And who’s going to produce the album?
Absolutely, we are so satisfied with the Roastinghouse studio and the people that work there so, we see no reason to change recording studio. If we want a certain production then they will fulfill our demands. They are very flexible when it comes to different kinds of productions so, they are able to do what we want and they will (depending on our instruments and performance ;). The producer will once again be Pontus Lindmark and Anders “Theo” Theander will be the executive producer.
Is the cover art-work going to be done by Mattias Norén again?
Yes it will. He has already finished the actual front cover so, it looks really cool, beautiful and dark ;). According to us Mattias is “King of Art”.
I have heard rumors that you’re going to release a DVD next year are that true? And what material is DVD that going to include?
Well, basically it is our own idea of getting material for a DVD so, as we speak there are no labels or anything we have discussed this with so, keep your fingers crossed. But, if everything works out the way we hope for the DVD will include:
* 2 or 3 songs from the “Sweden Rock Festival” show in 2006. That gig was filmed by 6 cameras and a few songs were properly mixed as well.
* There will be a 30 to 40 minute long backstage documentary with filmed material from our trips to “Progpower UK, Norway Metal heart Festival and a few other gigs we’ve done since we released “Crimson skies” + the recording session of our third album in the Roastinghouse studio. There will mostly be behind the scenes material in this documentary and no full length songs from our gigs (only clips). I guess there will be interviews and stuff as well ;). The documentary will be informative, interesting and funny ;).
* We will also include the 2 promotional videos we’ve done (Under fire and Demon tears) + the forthcoming promotion video of a song from our third album.
We hope to have all this finished at the end of this year so, if everything works out as we hope for maybe the DVD will be released sometime in 2008.
Earlier this summer you did a gig at Rockhimlen Festival in your hometown Helsingborg, how was that and where you happy with that show?
That gig went great and the crowd response was fantastic. We have of course performed live in our hometown quite many times the last 5 years but, this gig tops everything we’ve done in our hometown before. We were overwhelmed by the feedback we got 🙂
You are also involved in the project Planet Alliance that released their debut cd last year, what can you tell us about Planet Alliance?
Planet Alliance is strictly a project band where we compose good, melodic metal songs together with other musicians from other bands.
Who started the project and why?
It was record label “Metal Heaven” that contacted producer Anders “Theo” Theander and asked him to put together a band where I should be the lead singer and compose a few songs together with Magnus Karlsson (Allen/Lande Project, Starbreaker) backed up with a few well known musicians so, Theo asked me to come up with a wish list of musicians I wanted to invite to the project so, there you are…..Planet Alliance;). I don’t know why but, it was a fun project to be involved in and we are actually composing new songs for a second album as we speak so, we’ll see what happens later on…
Is Planet Alliance a project or a band?
It’s strictly a songwriting project.
I know that there is going to be a new album with PA, when do you think that will come out?
I don’t have a clue but, if you ask me to “guess” I’d say late 2008 at the earliest (more likely 2009).
Are there any plans on play live with this project/band?
Nope. Of course if timing was right it would be possible but, all of us are quite busy in our own bands so, that would be a hard thing to arrange ;).
What’s the difference between PA and Cloudscape musicwise?
Cloudscape is a bit more progressive and more dynamic while Planet Alliance is straighter. But, I guess the Planet Alliance album will appeal to fans of Cloudscape as well basically.
Are you involved in other projects/bands besides Cloudscape and Planet Alliance at the moment?
I am also lead singer in a band from Switzerland called “Silent memorial”. They released their debut album (Cosmic Handball) in 1998 with Thomas Wikström on vocals but, that album was only released in Asia so, I guess there aren’t many prog fans in Europe or the US that knows about Silent Memorial as we speak. I am singing on their second album which will be entitled “Retrospective” and it is already recorded, mixed and ready to go. Their management is currently in discussions with a few labels to release the album. The musical style of Silent memorial is more progressive and in the vein of Dream Theater compared to Cloudscape. We haven’t decided yet if we will do any live shows because, Cloudscape is my main band, my no: 1 so, I must put all my efforts and priority to Cloudscape in the first room. Apart from Planet Alliance and Silent Memorial I have no other bands ;). You’ll find Silent memorial on the internet at www.myspace.com/silentmemorial I guess that’s enough of bands for me but, I love to share skills and work with music so, that’s why I couldn’t say “no” to the cool guys in Silent memorial when they asked me to join their band, hehe.
But of course I show up as guest at times on various artists’ albums but, that’s another story 😉
You haven’t played in Malmoe despite the short distance to Helsingborg, why?
I don’t know actually. We have always wanted to perform live in Malmoe but, better late than never ;).
Finally, what can we expect of Cloudscape this evening?
A lively show ;). I guess that the stage we’re about to enter will be the smallest one in Cloudscape history but, it will nonetheless be cool to rock the Malmoenian crowd 😉
Any final words of wisdom for the metal-rules readers and your fans?
Keep spreading the word about the metal scene…..and Cloudscape of course ;). It’s all because of you that metal grows stronger everyday :).
If you for some reason have missed out on Cloudscape, don‘t hesitate to buy our albums or check out some of our songs in our websites :). You’re also welcome to join the official Cloudscape forum and meet other crazy Cloudscape fans 😉
Thanks a lot for letting me interview you Mike, good luck with everything in the future and will be talk again next year.
You’re welcome and thank You for the nice chat 🙂
//Cheers: Mike Andersson
Read the Cloudscape CD reviews from here